February 9, 2004
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
In who the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ,
who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2 Corinthians 4:3,4
I didn't really know him. I often saw hm walking the prison's
corridors, or in the gym as he worked out with weights. Many times I observed him in the recreation yard hanging out with
the Organized Crime guys. He fit in well with them, it seemed.
His name was Frank DeMarco, and he was shot to death on a street
in Queens, New York, shortly after he was released from Sullivan Correctional Facility.
Frank was 52 years old, and Sullivan was his last prison stop
before his life came to a sudden end.
Like hundreds of convicts who pass through this facility, many
who come here from other prisons who stay awhile before they're transferred again, or who eventually obtain their parole or
get released haveing earned "good time". Frank was just another face in the crowd.
I think he got out of prison only several months ago. And since
I didn't know Frank personally, I forgot about him. In this environment men come and go all the time. Inmates are transferred
in and out of the facility every week.
But over the weekend word began to spread quickly that a man
who had once been here, was shot to death.
In prisons, bad news travels fast.
Out of curiosity I asked one of Frank's friends if this was
true. False rumors spread fast, too.
When I asked the question, however, this man who lives in the
same housing unit as me, quickly darted into his cell to retrieve an article from the New York Post. He then handed me the
already crumpled page.
It was from the Post's "NYPD Daily Blotter" that's usually
buried somewhere in the middle of each day's newspaper.
This section llists some of the daily incidents of murder,
mayhem and crime in the "Big Apple".
I then read a portion of last Friday's blotter which said:
"Police yesterday indentified a Long Island man shot and killed
on a Cambria Heights street. Frank DeMarco, 52, of Westbury, was shot in the head for unknown reasons at 132nd Road and 219th
Street around 10:30 p.m., Wednesday. DeMarco, who had 60 prior arrests was taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital, where he died.
February 6, 2004"
My heart was stung. As a Christian I quickly bowed my head
and offered a silent prayer for his suffering family. I'm sure he has loved ones who are grieving.
And my mind thought of Frank, too. Sixty arrests! My friend
told me that Frank had a penchant for robbing drug dealiers.
I'm not sure what Frank received his last prison sentence for.
His friend didn't know. Frank DeMarco had so many prior arrests, and he'd done so much jail and prison time, that even his
best friend lost track.
And of course I wondered if Frank knew Jesus Christ as his
Savior. Like multitudes of imnates, he did his time hanging out with the guys, aimlessly passing the time, perhaps never thinking
about God and never showing any interest in going to chapel services.
Frank was like the myriads of men in prison whom satan has
Christian inmates were all around him. The chapel's doors were
always open. But Frank was a blind man. The "god of this world" kept Frank under his power.
The temptations of drugs and money and having a "good reputaion"
among thieves was of more value than his being in right standing with the Lord.
Now, sadly, only a short time after Frank walked out the doors
of this prison his body was dropped by a bullet on a desolate street corner.
A lifetime of crime was what he chose. and all that was left
to mark his life was a tiny blurb written in a New York City newspaper about his murder.
What a waste.
February 12, 2004
No matter how well a correctional facility seems to be managed,
or no matter how modern a facility may be, these places have the potential for fights and other acts of violence. for there
are men living under stress, who sometilmes have deep-seated anger, or who may be having a bad day when their lives start
to spin out of control and everything seems to be going wrong.
The prison I'm in now, for instance, even though it first opened
around 1985 and is considered to be "state of the art" with easier to manage cell blocks, surveillance cameras in the recreation
yards, and a smaller population (around 640 compared with the older and larger New York prisons that have 2,000 or more inmates),
is just as potentially dangerous as any other facility.
Recently since the start of this year, we've been seeing an
increase in fights. There's been tension in here that has never been at this level before. Although, fortunately things continue
to run smoothly.
But there has been tension in here that has never been at ths
level before. Although, fortunately, things continue to run smoothly.
But there has been a measurable increase in confrontations.
In fact, one of the local newspapers in this county published
an article about the problem titled "Inmate Assaults Cause Concern", (Sullivan County Democrat, Tuesday, February 10, 2004).
This was their lead story for the day.
In the article, concern was expressed by various prison workers
that the growing number of assaults on staff have upset them and are a cause for alarm.
A majority of the inmates who are incarcerated here go by the
rules and have no desire to make trouble or cause problems. However, these assaults do have a ripple effect that helps to
create an atmosphere of tension that touches everyone.
And while prisons are not designed to make the inmates of staff
feel comfortable, it is certainly more difficult to life and work in an environment where the potential for violence is at
a heightened level.
But I do believe the tension will eventually decrease. As a
Christian, I've begun to pray about this. So have the other men who attend our chapel services.
During times like this, however, I'm grateful for the peace
God gives to His children when our minds are fixed upon Him.
This is an inner peace which passes all human comprehension.
It will remain throughout all the storms.
February 14, 2004
There are still large mounds of snow outside and the temperature
remains below freezing. Yet this morning the sun's rays seemed very strong. Spring is on the way!
It was good to be ourdoors, and I was able to walk with my
Christian friends, Alan and Robert.
We needed the fresh air, and I needed the healing touch of
the sun to help overcome my recent bout with the flu. I still have traces of it in my lungs.
The two correction officers who were assigned to observe the
prisoners in the yard both happened to be Christians, too. So the three of us were able to greet the officers and say "God
bless you" to them without anythng being out of the ordinary.
I also felt a sense of security knowing that the guards assigned
to patrol the yard were Christians. for at this facility there are only a handful of officers who are open believers in Jesus
Christ (maybe six, total).
Anyhow, Alan, Rob and myself had a good time together. And
we're an odd trio because, as inmates come from all walks of life and many diverse backgrouds, Alan has a college degree and
he had been a pharmacist. Robert was a police officer. I was a postal worker.
Then, several minutes before the call was made for us to return
to our respective cell blocks, the three of us were able to have a time of prayer together.
It was a refreshing morning.
February 16, 2004
NEW YORK CITY VICTORY
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Today I received a "victory report" from two Christian friends
about an evangelistic outreach that was held on February 8th at the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church in New York City (www.brooklyntabernacle.org.
Once again God used the story of my redemption to touch lives.
On the Sunday of 2/8/04, during the 4 p.m. service, the FORGIVEN
FOR LIFE video was shown at this large church as part of an outreach to young people.
I was also able to prepare in advance a six page message titled
"Jesus at the Door" that was read by Asociate Pastor Tyrone McDonald. He also preached a message to go along with mine.
Then, near the end of the service, the invitation was given
for those who wished to receive Jesus christ as their Savior, to repent of sin, and to place their faith in Him.
From what my friends Dan and Alice told me, about fifty or
more peole came forward during the altar call.
The Lord always amazes me. For here I sit locked in a prison
cell far away from New York City. Yet the Lord is not limited by such physical restrictions.
I'm so thankful that Jesus made a way for me to go far beyond
these concrete walls and solid steel bars to share His love with people from all walks of llife.
Truly nothing is impossible with God!
February 19, 2004
JESUS GETS THE CREDIT
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old
things are passed away; all things are become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Recently I received a letter from a man in Texas who said he
was happy to hear how I turned my life around. I appreciate his kind words, of course. But I had to set him straight about
the changes in my life.
When I answered his letter I told him frankly and plainly that
I did NOT change my life around. I explained that it was Jesus Christ who, because He loves me, reached into the dark world
of despair I was living in.
It was the Lord who brough me up from a horrible pit. He came
into my prison cell to touch me and break the chains of demonic torment that had me bound.
When He rescued me I was in a state of terrible mental and
spiritual anguish. My life was a mess. And I was totally incapable of changing anything within myself.
It was Jesus precious blood that washed and freed me from my
So I won't dare to take credit for anything. If it were not
for the Lord's mercy, I would still be living in darkness. My life would be a living hell.
Today, however, my feet are set upon the Solid Rock of salvation
Jesus has put may songs of praise and thanksgiving in my mouth
which flow from my heart directly to His throne in heaven.
Yes, I serve a mighty and merciful God. And He gets the credit
and the glory, always.
February 23, 2004
This afternoon I received a letter from my friend, Chuck. He's
a Messianic Jew who lives in Utah.
Chuck told me that his 20-year old son, David, was killed in
Iraq as a result of a "non-combat" bullet wound. He told me, too, that his son's death is still being investigated by the
David died the day before last Thanksgiving, but I didn't know
this until Chuck's letter arrived. I had not been expecting such news, and it stunned me.
I didn't know his son personally, but my heart goes out to
Chuck and his family.
Chuck's faith is strong, however. For in spite of the pain
and loss of a child, he's trusting in the Lord. He said that he was completely surrendered to God.
Interestingly, in Chuck's letter he reminded me of something
I found to be very poignant. On November 11, 2003 (Veterans's Day) I wrote in my journal that I felt a deep need to pray for
the families of those who've lost a loved one as a result of the war in Iraq.
So when Chuck since learned that David died, and when he had
been reading from my journal some times afterwards, he was struck by the fact that I had been praying for his family, even
without my being aware of it. Chuck's son died about fifteen days after my November 11 entry. He told me that he felt this
was something providential, and I'm sure he took comfort knowing that other Christians were already praying for him, even
I believe this was God's way of displaying His loving hands
of comfort and care to a grieving father.
February 27, 2004
THE JUDAS KISS
And forthwith he (Judas) came to Jesus, and said "Hail, Master!"
and kissed him.
Last week I learned that a man I had been writing to for a
little more than a year, had sold seventeen of my letters to an autograph collector. The collector, in turn, was offering
them on eBay.
I've been through situations like this before, and it always
But there's nothing new under the sun. Because so many people
are greedy and selfish these things will happen.
This individual, Paul, is about my age. He has three grown
kids, one of whom has been struggling with drug addiction problem.
I don't even remember the circumstances in which Paul first
wrote to me. As a Christian I had responded to him in kindness. I also tried to share the gospel with Paul, as well as encourage
him whenever I could.
He seemed like a nice guy. OF course people know how to be
nice when they want something. Just ask Eve, and I'm sure she'd tell you that the serpent who ultimately deceived her was
just as nice.
Now I see that a man whom I thought was my friend, was a Judas.
Obviously he had another agenda. Paul really wanted to get letters from me, and then sell them when he felt that the time
I suppose, too, that every Christian has at lest one Judas
in his life. I've already known a dozen!
But for me this has been yet another "live and learn" experience.
I have already forgiven Paul in my heart. I will continue to
pray for him and his family. They are lost without the Lord, even if none of them know it.
As Jesus said so well, "for what is a man profited, if
he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:26)
I pray that, wherever he is, Paul is thinking about this.
February 29, 2004
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
There has been a tremendous amount of news within the past
several weeks concerning gay marriages.
San Francisco, California. New York City. New Paltz, New York.
Even Portland, Oregon. Many homosexuals want to legally marry.
And it is no surprise to me, therefore, that with all the media
coverage about this issue, the question of whether or not it is morally right has come up here in the prison.
Well the Bible says it is wrong for two people of the same
sex to lie together. Much of mankind, however, says it's okay.
So each person, I feel, has to decide for himself whether he
(or she) will believe and honor God's word, or whether they will align themselves with the principles of this world, which
are almost always opposed to God's.
I know that God forgives homosexuals when they repent of all
their sins, and each person places his faith in Jesus Christ.
I believe that God forgives gay people the say way He forgives
everyone who comes to Him for salvation.
I don't believe for a minute, though, that Jesus Christ hates
homosexuals. He loves them and He longs to see each of them turn from their sins and place their faith in Him. The Lord doesn't
want any one to perish.
In the congregation I belong to, for example, we have gay men
who occasionally walk through our chapel's door. We greet them just as we do the other prisoners.
And some of them will eventually become Christians, and some
won't. But our door is always open, and they know it.
We've had in the past, and we have at present, men in our fellowship
who have left the gay lifestyle. Many of them have become strong Christians with great faith and awesome testimonies of God's
And I believe that each of them can honestly confess that the
homosexual lifestyle isn't what the media protrays it to be.
Instead they would say that their homosexuality was a lonely
and empty experince. It was also a scary existence. For AIDS stalked their ranks and killed many of their friends.
In addition, the Bible makes it clear that, during time of
the early church, many congregations had members who were formerly homosexuals.
Others in those ancient congregations were once idolaters,
adulterers, thieves and drunkards. Some had been members of what we would today call "Organized Crime". They had been extortioners!
Yet all of these people from varying walks of life found themselves
to be sinners in need of a Savior. And, one by one, they came to Jesus, and He changed them.
God washed away their sins. He then called each of them to
be His children. And He justified every last one of them, just as if they'd never sinned (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
God is doing the exact same things today.